POSITIVE EXODUS OF STORM SURVIVORS PUSHEDBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Judy Quiros Inquirer Mindanao, Inquirer Southern Luzon
The government should slow down the exodus of evacuees from typhoon-devastated areas and instead strengthen the capabilities of the victims to resurrect their broken lives in their own hometowns.
ALSO: Family struggles to rebuild home, lives in coastal town
The 32-year-old laborer has no choice but to try to create a new dwelling for his wife and baby after his wooden shack was destroyed when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” smashed through the Philippines, killing more than 5,200 people. He scrabbles around in the mud to find whatever building materials he can—pieces of sodden lumber, tin sheets warped and twisted by the powerful winds, and crooked nails pulled from splintered planks.
ALSO: A ghoulish order
In the absence of any reasonable explanation for the new order, a review of the Yolanda death toll appears petty at best, and ghoulish at worst. In the wake of so much death and destruction, and with the urgent, unmet needs of hundreds of thousands of survivors, was it really necessary to order yet another investigation? To what purpose?
Positive exodus’ of storm survivors pushed
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, NOVEMBER 25, 2013 (INQUIRER) The government should slow down the exodus of evacuees from typhoon-devastated areas and instead strengthen the capabilities of the victims to resurrect their broken lives in their own hometowns.
“Let us all initiate ‘positive exodus’ among survivors. We should all help the victims overcome helplessness and dependency for them to return to their place and rebuild their lives,” activist priest Robert Reyes said on the phone on Saturday.
The priest said the relocation of typhoon victims from their roots would create more problems that the government has yet to foresee.
“Some of the evacuees in Metro Manila might not return. They would form part of the overpopulated metropolis whose citizens are in constant struggle for limited space, job opportunities and daily survival,” Reyes said.
The number of displaced people who have sought refuge in Manila and Cebu province has yet to reach “an alarming level,” said Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“There are between 4,000 and 5,000 survivors who have arrived in Manila but a number of them also proceed to their relatives in central Luzon and southern Luzon. It’s not really a problem for Manila at the moment. If the numbers rise, then government will address that,” he said.
The exodus of survivors to various parts of the country, including Davao City, where they do not have relatives, would pose another challenge to the government, particularly on the need to address the growing problem of informal settlers, a government official in southern Mindanao said on Friday.
Priscilla Razon, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said the immediate challenges that the exodus pose were on providing them livelihood, shelter and education.
“These families with no relatives and who are jobless could add up to the existing number of informal settlers, and their children would also be an addition to our street children,” Razon said.
In Davao City, over a hundred Yolanda-affected families had arrived the past few days. They include the 67 families that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had ordered fetched by members of the Central 911 team that he sent to Tacloban City.
Duterte has assured those relocating to the city of assistance. The city government even set up a help desk at the city council building for Yolanda survivors.
Juan Antonio A. Perez III, executive director of the Population Commission, said the out-migration of survivors from Yolanda-stricken areas would be “added pressure on the local government units” of the areas they were heading to.
He said the pressure would be on transport, education, livelihood and others areas. “All of these will have pressure on the government,” Perez said.
He said he was confident that the problem posed by the exodus of Yolanda survivors would be temporary because they would eventually go back to their former homes.
This was why the government should hasten the efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate the affected areas, he said.
“[The rebuilding and rehabilitation of affected areas] should be done carefully so as not to have a repeat of the catastrophe,” Perez said. With a report from Nikko Dizon
Family struggles to rebuild home, lives in coastal town Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:24 am | Monday, November 25th, 2013
A Filipino man climbs up on a wooden structure as he rebuilds his house in a neighborhood devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, which tore across several islands in the eastern Philippines on Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
DULAG, Leyte, Philippines—Every nail Florentino Homeris hammers down takes him one step closer to rebuilding his typhoon-wrecked house and one step further from life with the daughter he lost.
The 32-year-old laborer has no choice but to try to create a new dwelling for his wife and baby after his wooden shack was destroyed when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” smashed through the Philippines, killing more than 5,200 people.
He scrabbles around in the mud to find whatever building materials he can—pieces of sodden lumber, tin sheets warped and twisted by the powerful winds, and crooked nails pulled from splintered planks.
All were probably part of someone else’s home before the storm.
On a tiny patch of sand in the ruined coastal town of Dulag where his one-room shack once stood, Homeris had just finished the frame of what he hoped would be a replica of the one he built for his new family five years ago.
“But I cannot remember the exact way the house looked,” he said. “There was a small kitchen and a door here,” he said pointing to a vacant space.
He is also short on useable materials. “I will have to look for tin roofing from somewhere later today.”
The loss of his 5-year-old girl in the storm is yet to completely sink in. The absence of any proper Catholic burial for this devoutly religious man does not help.
“I see her in my dreams,” he said, choking back tears. “But she is there, in a body bag. I have given my permission for her to be in the mass grave.”
“I have another child and a wife who need to live too, but it is very difficult,” he added as he tried unsuccessfully to straighten a rusty nail.
On the night before Yolanda tore into Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, Homeris took his wife, 5-year-old daughter and baby boy to a school.
He thought they would be safe there from the vicious winds, but he did not count on giant waves washing ashore and into the concrete building, taking his daughter.
Such storm surges were the main killer across the worst-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar.
The government says about 4.3 million people lost their homes in the typhoon, double the number of those made homeless by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.
Experts say it will cost billions of dollars and many years to rebuild the destroyed communities.
A giant reconstruction effort involving the government, the United Nations, the World Bank and a plethora of nongovernment organizations is starting to kick in.
But Homeris—like many other fishermen, farmers and other people who barely earned enough money to survive before the storm—must act now.
Every day without a home is another day his wife and baby must sleep on the hard ground under a tarpaulin advertisement for a local mobile phone company. AFP
MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL
A ghoulish order By Manila Standard Today | Nov. 25, 2013 at 12:11am 4
LIKE a child who insists that he is right despite all evidence to the contrary, President Benigno Aquino III last week ordered his Cabinet secretaries to investigate what he saw as suspiciously high casualty rates in the areas hardest hit by super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8.
Mr. Aquino had famously told the world in an interview on CNN that he felt the initial estimates of 10,000 dead were much too high, and that he expected the number to be between 2,000 and 2,500.
But as the official count came close to doubling his own estimate, he ordered the secretaries of the Justice Department and the Science and Technology Department to look into the high death toll in Tacloban City, Tolosa, Tanauan, Palo, Dulag and other nearby areas, which, the Palace says, accounted for more than 90 percent of the casualties.
“There are available satellite tracking records that will show not only the impact of the typhoon but also the areas that were hit hardest,” a Palace spokesman, quoting the Science secretary, said.
In the absence of any reasonable explanation for the new order, a review of the Yolanda death toll appears petty at best, and ghoulish at worst.
In the wake of so much death and destruction, and with the urgent, unmet needs of hundreds of thousands of survivors, was it really necessary to order yet another investigation? To what purpose?
Was it to satisfy this President’s penchant for passing the buck and assigning blame to somebody else—in this case, local government officials, many of whom were themselves victims? Or did the President merely want to prove that his estimate wasn’t that much off the mark?
Neither of these reasons is a valid one for wasting even an iota of time or resources that could otherwise be poured into the relief and rehabilitation effort, which has been slow, even by the Social Welfare secretary’s own admission.
Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan was spot on when she said the President should be concerned with the suffering survivors, not the dead. Another lawmaker decried what he described as the Palace’s “obsession” with the death toll.
In a Nov. 19 interview on a popular US talk show, CNN journalist Anderson Cooper described how survivors had to fend for themselves “for days and days and days” after the typhoon hit, with no help from the Philippine government to find their loved ones.
He also touched on the lack of an accurate death toll.
“No one knows for sure. A police chief said 10,000 and they then fired that police chief, and then the government said, ‘Oh no, it’s not that bad, it’s only something like 2,000 or so.’ Well, it’s much worse than that.... but I mean they have no idea. There’s no accurate count,” he said.
Given the damage done to his image, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Aquino were to order an investigation of CNN’s Anderson Cooper next.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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